Last year I wrote a column for the CILIP Update magazine on the topic of Getting Things Done. The column came about as a follow on from an article I wrote on the topic in 2012. The article was very well received and so I was invited to develop a series of columns on various different aspects. These were published every other month during 2013, and are now outside the embargo period so I am able to share them via the blog. Each one has a theme, and many also include additional hints and tips, updates, and some Q&As.

The main takeaway points for the series are:

  • Ensure all confirmed appointments are in your calendar and check your calendar regularly
  • Consider blocking out time in your calendar for working on particular tasks/projects
  • Find a to-do list that suits the way you work, whether it’s physical or virtual
  • Learn when and how to say no to help you prioritise your time effectively
  • Set up a tickler file to store items for future and have them ready for when you need them
  • Include start dates on tasks and projects so they don’t bother you until it’s time to work on them
  • Keep your email inbox for incoming items only
  • Review your tasks and projects regularly to ensure they are up-to-date and you can focus on current priorities

You can view the columns in full using the following links:

  1. Dealing with calendars and diaries
  2. To-do or not to-do, that is the question
  3. The art of saying no
  4. Helping your future self
  5. Getting to inbox zero and keeping it that way
  6. Knowing when to stop

I had some really positive feedback on the column and it was great to gain an understanding of which parts were most useful and what people wanted more advice on. Trying different tools and techniques to improve productivity is something that’s always interested me so it’s been good to have the opportunity to share some of the things I’ve learnt along that process.

Alongside the column, I’ve also been developing my materials for the Managing yourself: how to be productive with your time workshop, and also delivered a webinar earlier this year on the topic. If you’re interested in a workshop or webinar on this topic, please let me know.

Another year has flown past and it’s time for my annual review – you can see previous ones for 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012.

2013 has been a funny old year; nothing particularly terrible has happened, but I haven’t felt as positive as I usually do and this has been reflected by a decrease in blogging and use of social media. It’s not all bad though, as another reason for this decrease is a continuation of what I mentioned last year as a major lesson – trying to achieve a more sustainable work-life balance. This year I’ve been doing a lot of other hobbies – for some months I was regularly running, I’ve been learning nail art (and building quite a large collection of nail polishes!), I’ve learnt to crochet, and I’ve been doing lots of knitting. Oh, and I’ve become a little addicted to Grey’s Anatomy. There have also been some professional achievements during the year, so I’m going to take the opportunity to highlight those as I have done in previous years.

2013 highlights

2013 highlights

Top left: Entering the CILIP offices for the final day of my secondment
Top right: Attendees at one of my CILIP Umbrella Conference breakout sessions
Bottom left: One of my CILIP Update columns
Bottom right: Lean In book by Sheryl Sandberg (image from Google Books)

One major thing this year has been my part-time secondment to CILIP for the Future Skills Project. Between May and November, two days of my working week were spent on the project along with another project worker, Julie Griffiths. Our focus was to work on the recommendations from the Future Skills project board to prepare for the launch of the new Professional Registration (previously referred to as CILIP Qualifications). We worked on the assessment criteria, the assessment process, the handbooks, and online support materials for Certification, Chartership, Fellowship, and Revalidation. For revalidation we reviewed the process and made it much more straight forward to submit on an annual basis, rather than a large portfolio every 3 years. We also provided training for a number of specific groups related to Professional Registration – the Professional Registration Assessment Board, Mentor Support Officers, and Candidate Support Officers. After a successful member vote in November, the new scheme has now launched and people are starting to use it. I hope they find it clearer than the previous system, and I know CILIP staff will be working hard to support everyone involved to make it a relatively smooth transition. The project was really interesting to work on, and totally different from my day job; the variety was good for me, and I enjoyed working with lots of different CILIP members. It was also really good to get to know more of the CILIP staff, who are lovely and made myself and Julie feel very welcome. I feel honoured to have been able to work on the project and the experience has certainly been a highlight of my year.

Towards the end of last year, I made a conscious decision to not attend as many conferences in 2013 as I had in 2012. This was a tough decision; I absolutely love conferences and learn so much from them, both through the sessions I attend and the conversations I have with people I meet at conferences. However, I find them pretty draining, particularly when I have a presentation to prepare for and deliver (though I love doing it and it is a really important part of my role as a researcher). I knew though that attending too many conferences could reach a stage where it impacts on my work, as it’s not just the time out at the conference, but the preparation time before and reflection time after. I knew I needed to prioritise so that I wasn’t spending as much time outside working hours doing activities relating to conferences.

I decided to only submit proposals for CILIP Umbrella Conference, which is a conference I’ve never been able to attend previously. I was delighted to discover that both my proposals had been successful, though of course that meant quite a bit of work ahead of me. I was very fortunate to be working with two fantastic co-presenters who made the whole process enjoyable, and I really enjoyed the conference. The keynotes were excellent as no matter what sector you work in, there was something to take from them all. I also really enjoyed a leadership panel discussion I attended, and breakout sessions on continuing professional development.

I was invited to present at other events, and although I couldn’t fit them all into my schedule, I was able to accept some and really enjoyed the opportunity to speak about topics that interest me. I presented workshops on tools and techniques to improve productivity; getting the most out of professional development; using mobile technologies in libraries; and at Internet Librarian International I was invited to share my experiences as a learner on a MOOC (see my previous blog post for further information on MOOCs). You can see a full list of the presentations I gave in 2013 on my Presentations page.

Another highlight of 2013 for me has been writing a column for CILIP Update. This followed on from an article I wrote for the magazine in 2012 on the Getting Things Done methodology, and this year I have written tips and advice on a number of different themes to do with improving productivity. I received some really positive feedback on the column and know some people have found the ideas useful in changing their own practice. I’ve drafted a blog post to summarise the key points from the column and will share that soon – in the meantime, the columns are available from my Publications page.

Something else I’ve enjoyed in 2013 is the Library Leadership Reading Group (LLRG). I started this after the CILIP in Wales 2012 conference on leadership, and since then have hosted discussions on ten different readings relating to leadership. I’ve found the discussions really useful – sometimes I haven’t really enjoyed reading the book but after the discussion have taken more from it due to other people’s perspectives after reading it. I’ve been tending to create a Storify of each discussion and you can see them linked from the LLRG Google document. At the moment we’re reading a book on change management, Our Iceberg is Melting, which we’re likely to discuss in January. Keep an eye on the #llrg tag on Twitter if you’re interested in joining us, everyone is welcome. One particular highlight of LLRG for me this year has been reading Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg. I absolutely loved it and it has had a huge influence on my life. I’ve discussed parts of the book with so many different people, and continue to think about some of the things mentioned in the book when I have to make decisions. I’ve also become part of a Lean In circle which has been a very positive experience for me.

So there we go, my personal highlights for the year. I hope you have enjoyed 2013, and whether or not you celebrate New Year I hope you have the opportunity to mark the beginning of 2014 in some way. I’m looking forward to a fresh start, beginning with a potential break of tradition (something I very rarely do!). First though, I shall be trying some new cocktails tonight including the one below – cheers!

Whilst I was working towards my chartership, my mentor encouraged me to write an article for CILIP Update based on the workshop I delivered for CDG London and South East on time management and the Getting Things Done (GTD) system. CILIP have also kindly provided an open access version for non-members to read. I really enjoyed writing the article, and it was well received; I had some great feedback both by social media and email.

Time management and productivity is clearly a topic of interest to a number of library/information workers, and I’m pleased to say I’m going to be sharing more of the things I’ve learnt through my experimentation over the last few years. Next year I’ll be writing a column every other month for CILIP Update, covering some of the topics in this area. I’ve had a few ideas of the sort of things I’d like to cover based on questions I have been asked, including:

  • To-do list software
  • Calendar
  • Scheduling future tasks
  • Motivating yourself

I’d like to keep it relatively open to incorporate new developments/discoveries, as well as tailoring the column to what people are particularly interested in with regards to productivity tools/techniques. If you have any specific topics or questions you’d like me to answer (or at least have a go at!) please feel free to email me or leave a comment on this blog post. I’m no expert, but I have been experimenting with a number of different tools and techniques for the last few years and am always interested in trying new ones- please send me details if there is something you recommend or would like to know more about. I try to keep an eye on the #gtd tag on Twitter but there are a lot of tweets using the hashtag so if there’s something you’d like to feed in to the column, please be sure to include my Twitter name (@joeyanne) to make sure I pick it up.


Studying?! by J.Salmoral

When I should have been writing my dissertation in 2009 I wrote a few articles for publication, but in the last 12-18 months my writing has pretty much stalled apart from blogging which I continue to do on a regular basis, and occasional articles for regional newsletters (because I’m on committees and sometimes get asked to write something up for the newsletter). Most of my publications have been in newsletter and magazines – I’ve only been through the peer-review process once and it was an event report so not as rigorous as a research article.

Writing is one of my focus areas for my Chartership, and something I’d like to improve, particularly with publishing my research in peer-reviewed journals (or professional journals). There have been some interesting discussions on the value of peer-review recently on Twitter and blogs, and it’s something I am still deciding my view on – I see the value in sharing via a blog (mainly for the currency and immediacy factor), but for research articles the longevity and kudos of a peer-reviewed journal make it far more appealing. I’m keen to support Open Access and would rather publish in an open access publication that I could also link to via my blog, Twitter, LinkedIn etc.

In order to try to get back on track with writing, last week I attended the first of a two-part workshop on Writing for Publication. Below are my notes from the day (probably only of use to others who use lists – sorry!):

Getting started

Why do research and write about it?
  • Pass on knowledge to others (within and outside workplace)
  • Self reflection
  • Sharing lessons learned (so others don’t make same mistakes)
  • Share good practice
  • Open up new ideas
  • Boost CV
  • Promote library service
  • Prevent reinventing the wheel
Challenges and solutions:
TimeSet yourself a deadline or tie it in to work targets
Trying to make it perfectGet feedback from someone you trust the opinion of (it's probably better than you think!)
Knowing when to stopSet clear boundaries before starting research
Procrastination/lazinessChivvying mentor
Thinking it's not going to interest anyonePass to someone you know will give honest opinion or ask people before you start to write
Not fun to writeWrite about things you are passionate about if you can or make process more interesting
Writing styles

Good article:
  • Clarity
  • Structure/sections
  • Strong, recognisable words and phrases
  • Attractive layout
  • Clear reason for reading it
  • Clear summary
  • Good conclusions
Bad article:
  • Long words unnecessarily
  • Too many acronyms
  • Title not matching content
  • Silliness
  • Changing statistic styles (not clear)
  • Repackaging same information
Common paper structure
  • Introduction (often written last)
  • Literature review – concluding with clear demonstration of gap in literature and justification for article
  • Aims/objectives (key to the article to help hold it all together) – this might just be the aims and objectives of the article rather than the larger project
  • Methods – need to be good enough to enable someone else to replicate research
  • Results – use chart if relevant but don’t then repeat in article
  • Discussion – look at what you have done and compare to other literature, and suggest limitations of your research or perhaps why you got results you weren’t expecting
  • Conclusion – summary of what you have done and what you found (shouldn’t have anything new that hasn’t already been said)
Submission process
  1. Article goes to editor
  2. Editor removes any identifying details
  3. Editor allocates 2 appropriate peer reviewers
  4. Peer review send back comments within certain timeframe
  5. Editor makes decision based on peer review and own comments
  6. Decision to author (with constructive feedback)
  7. Author completes revisions and sends back to editor (useful to highlight what changes you have made i.e. how you have made them)
  8. Editor verifies revisions and edits article
  9. Check back with author
  10. Send to copyeditor
  11. Check back with author (final chance to make sure you as author are happy with final article)
  12. Final edits
  13. Layout
  14. Final proofread
  15. Publication!
General tips:
  • Find what works best for you
    • Time of day
    • Approach – either starting with structure and fleshing out each section or just getting everything down and editing later
    • Motivators – what will motivate you to write? Rewards? Getting housework done first or leave until after?
  • Useful to have someone checking on your progress and keeping it on track to make sure you stick to your timescale and targets.
  • Start small – newsletters, blogs, in house journal, website
  • Choose who your audience is and which journal to approach (look at some of the other articles) – email before writing to see if it would be appropriate for the journal. Two to consider might be:
    • Library and Information Research
    • Evidence Based Librarianship in Practice
  • Ask other people if they know which journal might be a good fit for your article
  • Read other articles and critically appraise (can use a tool/matrix to help with this)
  • If you find a structure that you like, use it as a template
  • Make sure you read the guidelines for the journal
  • If writing for field outside LIS, consider co-authoring with someone in that field

What next?

I’m attending the second of these workshops on Monday and have been set homework to do before then – an outline structure for an article and finding a potential journal to approach. I have a few ideas of articles I’d like to publish but I am particularly keen to share our experiences from CPD23. I’ve made contact with potential collaborators and am now starting to plan some ideas. I’d also like to consider publishing some of my dissertation more widely, particularly the market orientation aspect. I’d also like to write up some of the work I’ve been doing at Evidence Base – we write so many reports but don’t tend to take time to write up articles. I’m aiming to get at least one peer-reviewed research article published this year, so fingers crossed I can keep my motivation going and get something good enough to be accepted!

I found last year’s resolutions useful in helping keep me on the right track last year, and am pleased to say I kept most of them – here’s a review:

  • Complete my MSc dissertation – finished in July
  • Attend more conferences – I attended lots of great conferences and events in 2011
  • Implement the Getting Things Done system at home and work – I seem to have this sorted for electronic information, though need to work on physical organisation of paperwork and notes
  • Participate in Library Day in the Life – I took part in both rounds of Library Day in the Life in 2011
  • Continue to blog – I posted 44 times on this blog in 2011, and also blogged for Evidence Base and for projects I’m involved in

As it was a useful exercise for helping me focus last year, so I’ve decided to set myself more resolutions/goals for this year. In common with Erin, these are general aims so cover all areas of my life.

  1. To work on CILIP Chartership (reflecting on achievements and updating wiki on at least a monthly basis)
  2. To improve physical organisation, particularly in home office – notes and paperwork etc.
  3. To achieve a more productive balance between different parts of my life ensuring I make time for professional, personal, and social activities
  4. To continue to blog about professional issues and ideas as well as reflection on activities
  5. To publish at least one paper (preferably peer-reviewed)

Bring it on!

My MSc Econ dissertation titled ‘Strategic marketing in academic libraries: an examination of current practice‘ is now available on Aberystwyth University’s open access repository.

I know a number of people said they were interested in viewing it so I’ve included the details below. I have also added it to my publications page.

Strategic marketing in academic libraries: an investigation of current practice

The purpose of the research is to investigate strategic marketing in academic libraries, incorporating elements of organisational orientation, strategic planning, and processes and procedures to support these.

Aims and objectives
The aim of the research is to build on existing literature, extending the knowledge of current practice in a relatively unexplored area within UK academic libraries. The objectives of the research are to identify key considerations for strategic marketing in academic libraries; to critically evaluate current theory on the subject; to explore current practice; and to formulate recommendations of best practice.

A mixed methods approach was chosen, using survey and case study strategies. An online questionnaire was used identify trends in current practice, whilst telephone interviews enabled more detailed exploration. A geographical sample, university libraries in the West Midlands, was chosen due to convenience. All nine libraries were invited to participate; one chose to opt out whilst one did not respond. This resulted in seven libraries participating in the questionnaire, with five of those also participating in an interview.

The key considerations for strategic marketing in academic libraries emerging from the literature included market orientation, marketing planning and customer relationship management. Results showed that though market orientation is seen as a useful approach for libraries, the topic is relatively unfamiliar to librarians. Responsibility for marketing
planning varied across the libraries interviewed, though all but one utilise groups to bring experience from different areas of the library. All participating libraries have some form of marketing plan and engage in customer relationship management activities, however formal procedures and embedding into service planning was not evident.

Strategic marketing in academic libraries is of clear relevance to today’s economic situation, and the research highlights the need for raising awareness of such issues and considering implications and barriers to practice.

The item record is available in Aberystwyth University’s Cadair repository with the full text PDF linked from the item record.

EDITED TO ADD: This is likely to be my final blog post before Christmas this year, so I’d like to take the opportunity to wish you all a very Merry Christmas! If you feel like doing something fun over the festive period, why not enter the Festive 24 Things 2011 quiz?

I’ve recently written a couple of guest blog posts for Kiyomi Deards, who I keep in touch with via Twitter but whom I haven’t actually met in person yet (I think she kept avoiding me at ALA Annual in June, I’m hoping to track her down at ALA Midwinter in January!).

Kiyomi asked me to write a guest blog post and complete an interview as part of her leaders of tomorrow series on her blog. I decided to write from an international perspective about my experience at ALA Annual, and share my top tips. Hopefully they will be relevant to anyone attending a large conference for the first time, whether it’s ALA, SLA or any other library/tech conference. The blog posts are now both available on Kiyomi’s blog:

I’ve subscribed to the comments for both posts so please feel free to add any additional tips or ideas, or ask me any further questions on the interview.

Apologies in advance for the shameless self-promotional nature of this post. I like to use this blog as a personal record (I’m also hoping this will come in handy when I do my Chartership), so I’m just sharing a few things I’ve been up to lately elsewhere in the blogosphere. I spent some time last week writing blog posts for various places, and some of these have now been published and may be of interest. I also want to share a new project which I’m really excited about. Read the rest of this entry »

Just a quick post – my event report from LILAC 2010 has now been published in the latest issue of Journal of Information Literacy – go directly to the article or view the journal issue. As always, there are some really interesting articles in the issue; I particularly enjoyed reading Jane Secker‘s article about information literacy education in US libraries (I had many interesting conversations about this at LILAC so was good to read about it from someone who has visited – I’d love to do that some time!).

Also, a brief mention about the publication process – as it is peer-reviewed and all handled online this was a new experience for me (previously I’ve mainly dealt with the process through e-mail communication with the editor). It seems to work well – there were a few issues with the system in that it doesn’t alert the reviewer/editor when updates have been made, but it wasn’t too arduous to send a quick email to let them know. I really liked the ability to track the progress of the article, and online storage certainly helped in terms of version control to ensure the most up-to-date copy is being used. I know this approach is used by a number of peer-reviewed journals now and I can certainly see why – I can also see the opportunity to use this sort of system for any document control which needs to go through a similar reviewing and updating process (project documentation, theses and dissertations, and dreaded reading lists!).

Anyway, enough about that – read the article if you’re interested in what LILAC 2010 was all about, and you may also wish to read my blog posts from LILAC. Hopefully it won’t be the last LILAC conference I attend; I really did get a lot of value from it and would recommend it to all researchers and practitioners interested in information literacy.

Magnifying glass enlarging words from dictionary

The day after the Librarians as Teachers event was a similarly themed event focusing on a different element of the librarian role – Librarian as Researcher.

I wasn’t able to attend this event, but I followed it via Twitter thanks to @LISResearch and @lenocsor. You can see the tweets in relation to the event at the TwapperKeeper archive. Obviously, I didn’t get the benefit of attending the day’s events but I did get a flavour for the discussions and could follow up links mentioned and view presentations online.

I’m a keen advocate of research, making evidence-based decisions wherever possible. I’m involved in my own research as a librarian (for work-based projects and to inform elements of my job role), and I also spend my free time researching areas of interest -sometimes for articles, presentations or blog posts; sometimes just to increase my understanding.

One of the things I was really impressed by at LILAC 2010 was the emphasis on research-informed information literacy teaching, using both existing research and conducting original research to help make decisions about the approach to teaching.

Commitment to research by librarians is something I’d love to see more of, but I think all too often it’s overlooked as other activities take priority. Read the rest of this entry »